Sara Naumann blog header teachers

 In this new series, Talking with Teachers, you’ll meet art and craft instructors from around the world. We’ll take a look at their artwork, peek into their creative process when it comes to designing and developing workshops, and—of course—check out their class lineup.

This week I’m talking with Canadian artist Dea Fischer, who says she has “a slow-burning love affair with books”. (I love that!) Dea divides her time between book arts, collage, photography and community art projects. Recently Dea had a book project included in “1,000 Artists’ Books” by Quarry Books, edited by Sandra Salamony. You can see more of Dea’s gorgeous work at her website…and keep reading to find out more about this book artist and teacher.

Sara Naumann blog Dea Fischer

What classes do you teach, and where? 

I am teaching at Art & Soul, Portland in October this year.  I am offering two classes.

On Friday, I will be teaching how to create the book that has become my most intriguing and perennially popular book: The Star Book. The star book is an apparently complex, multi-layered book form that has many possible uses. It can be experienced in the hand like any other book, or opened out to a dramatic circular display. We will construct a star book with layered inserts between each arm of the star, and small pockets in each insert for the addition of ephemera, cards or objects. The class is called Star Light, Star Bright: The Chinese Star Book.

Sara Naumann blog

The Star Book, by Dea Fischer

And then, on Sunday, I will be teaching a workshop on enriching your collage surface. The success of collage work often comes in the complexity and visual depth of its surface. Glimpses of images or words, translucent layers, texture and colour all come into play in creating a visually intriguing and stimulating collage surface. In this workshop, we will explore collage layering techniques using a variety of materials from translucent papers and fabric to acrylic mediums, and building the surface through quilting, stitching and adhering embellishments with stitches, ribbon or wire. This class is called Rock, Paper, Scissors: Enriching Your Collage Surface.

Sara Naumann blog Dea Fischer

From the Rock, Paper, Scissors class by Dea Fischer

How did you get into teaching? 

I qualified as a lawyer and practised as a litigator for fifteen years in the UK before returning to Canada and to my creative roots. I had many opportunities to teach during that career, and it was the aspect I most enjoyed. It gave me a chance to hone my teaching and presentation skills, and allowed me to transfer those skills over to my new career.

Since returning to Canada in 2004, I have taught frequently for my community and in our school division. I also teach private courses in bookbinding, book arts, collage and related mixed media subjects. In 2011, some of my books were featured in Cloth Paper Scissors magazine. I was asked to teach at one of their conferences later that year. In 2013, I have seven invitations to teach internationally.

Sara Naumann blog Dea Fischer collage

Pearl collage by Dea Fischer

How has teaching impacted or affected your sense of a creative community, or tribe?

What an interesting question! I have responded to this question because it is a topic that has resonated powerfully with me over the last few years. Creative community is deeply enriching and joy-making, and I am always excited and energised by personal interaction with members of my creative community. The energy generated feeds my spirit and my creativity and inspires me greatly. I have found especially over the last two years that my creative community is multi-layered, from my immediate community with whom I interact in collaboration, in community art projects and events and sharing, to my wider community with whom I interact in person at workshops and retreats, to my participation in my world-wide online community.

Sara Naumann blog Dea Fischer

Collage by Dea Fischer

Is teaching your main job, or do you have another occupation? 

I do teach extensively and it forms a large component of my work. However, not everyone knows that my ‘regular job’ is at a public library, where I work in book conservation and preservation amongst my other functions. I get the opportunity to teach in those areas too, but in a very different way. I teach staff from other libraries in our library consortium . . . via videoconference!

Sara Naumann blog Dea Fischer

A Walk in the Woods, by Dea Fischer

Do you take classes?

I wish I did!  Remembering to take time to feed my own creativity and maintain my learning is important. However, between essentially three full-time jobs of a home and family, a ‘real’ job and my creative business and teaching, it is very difficult for me to find time to just ‘play’. However, the workshops I deliver become playtime for me too, as I always learn as much from my students as they might learn from me. The sharing and enrichment that come from those times is like taking a workshop too!

Thank you, Dea, for sharing your experiences with us!

To see more of Dea’s gorgeous work, visit her website or her blog. For more info on Dea’s Art & Soul classes, visit the Art & Soul Portland 2012 site.